This March there are more than four dozen contests calling for every genre and form, from poetry, to creative nonfiction, to completed novels. Prizes range from $60,000 to publication. None charge entry fees.
Some of these contests have age and geographical restrictions, so read the instructions carefully.
If you want to get a jump on next month’s contests go to Free Contests. Most of these contests are offered annually, so even if the deadline is past, you can prepare for next year.
Mistakes Were Made. Genre: True story about a mistake you made, in 20 words. “The year 2020 reminds us of the phrase: Hindsight is 20/20. So we invite you to look back on your life and tell us about something that, in hindsight, you would have done differently.” Prize: Free Gotham class of your choosing. Deadline: March 1, 2020.
United States/Japan Creative Artists Residencies. This is a 3–5 month residency in Japan. Grant: $24,000. Deadline: March 1, 2020.
The Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award is sponsored by Broadside Lotus Press. Restrictions: This competition is open to African American poets only. If you have already had a book published by Lotus Press, you are ineligible. However, inclusion in a Lotus Press anthology does not disqualify you. Genres: Poetry collections of approximately 60–90 pages. Prize: $500 in cash and publication by Broadside Lotus Press as well as free copies and discounts. Deadline: March 1, 2020.
Fountain Magazine Essay Contest. Genre: Essay. 1,500–2,500 words. “We want to hear about your challenges and how you mentally, physically, and/or spiritually prepare for them.” Prize: 1st Place — $1,500, 2nd Place — $750, 3rd Place — $300, Two Honorable Mentions — $200 each. Deadline: March 1, 2020.
Beverly Hopkins Memorial Poetry Contest for High School Students. Restrictions: High school students living within 100 miles of St. Louis. Genre: Poetry. Prize: First prize $200, Second prize $125, Third prize $75. Deadline: March 1, 2020.
Balticon Poetry Contest. Sponsored by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society. Genre: Speculative poetry. Prize: 1st prize: $100; 2nd prize: $75; 3rd prize: $50. Deadline: March 1, 2020.
Alabama Arts Council Fellowships. Restrictions: Open to any author who has lived in Alabama for at least 2 years. Genre: Fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction of 10–20 pages. Prize: $5,000. Deadline: March 1, 2020.
Mississippi Artists Fellowships. Restrictions: Open to permanent residents of Mississippi. Genre: Fiction and poetry. Prize: $5,000. Deadline: March 1, 2020.
Dark Regions Press: Survive the Night — Three at Dusk, One at Dawn. Genre: Survival horror story involving three central characters (optional secondary characters) who become trapped at dusk with one or more forces outside that are capable of killing them. Only one of the three central characters survives until dawn. Length: 3,000 to 8,000 words. Prize: $3,000 prize pool (10% of Survive the Night preorder sales at darkregions.com/survivethenight get added to the prize pool until contest ends March 1st 2020) — Prize pool will be evenly divided among the selected authors. Deadline: March 1, 2020.
Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize. Genre: Adventure writing novel. Separate categories for published and unpublished books. Self-published books accepted. Prize: £15,000. Deadline: March 1, 2020.
Lewis Galantiere Award. Restrictions: Open to US citizens or permanent residents. Genre: Translation of book-length literary work from any language, except German, into English. Entries must have been published in the US in the past two years. Prize: $1000. Deadline: March 1, 2020.
International Young Writers Prize (for High School Aged Writers). Restrictions: Open to high school students. Prize: $100. Deadline: March 1, 2020.
Grant MacEwan Creative Writing Scholarship is sponsored by the Alberta Foundation for the Arts. Genres: Poetry, Short Fiction & Creative Nonfiction, Drama, or Graphic Novel. Restrictions: Authors must be currently enrolled in an undergraduate creative writing program of study or mentorship. (Max age 25) Alberta residents only. Prize: $5000 (CAN). Deadline: March 2, 2020.
Christopher Tower Poetry Competition. Restrictions: Open to UK students between 16–18 years of age. Genre: Poetry, one poem, maximum 48 lines. Theme is “underwater.” Prize: £5,000. Deadline: March 2, 2020.
The Premises. For this contest, write a creative, compelling, well-crafted story between 1,000 and 5,000 words in which one or more characters face this problem: there is more than one of something that there should absolutely, positively be only one of. Genre: Short story. Length: Between 1,000 and 5,000 words. Prize: Between US$60 and US$220, and publication. Deadline: March 6, 2020.
Jane Martin Poetry Prize (UK). Restrictions: Open to UK residents between 18 and 30 years of age. Genre: Poetry. Prize: £700, second prize, £300. Deadline: March 6, 2020.
“It’s All Write!” Teen Short Story Contest. Restrictions: Open to Grades 6–12. Genre: Short story, and flash fiction, unpublished. Prize: 1st Place $250, 2nd Place $150, 3rd Place $100. Deadline: March 9, 2020.
BBC National Short Story Award. Restrictions: Open to UK residents or nationals, aged 18 or over, who have a history of publication in creative writing. Genre: Short fiction. Prize: £15,000 to the winner, £3,000 for the runner-up and £500 for three further shortlisted writers. Deadline: March 9, 2020.
Forward Prizes. Genre: Collections and single poems published in the UK and Ireland between September 2019 and September 2020 are eligible for the Prizes. Must be submitted by publisher. Prize: £1,000 to £10,000 Deadline: March 9, 2020.
NEA Literature Fellowships are sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts. Prize: $25,000 grants in prose (fiction and creative nonfiction) and poetry to published creative writers that enable recipients to set aside time for writing, research, travel, and general career advancement. Deadline: March 11, 2020.
Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Non-Fiction. Genre: Literary non-fiction. Restrictions: Titles must be published in Canada and written by Canadians. Prize: $60,000 will be awarded to a literary nonfiction book published between October 1, 2019 and September 30, 2020. Deadline: March 11, 2020.
Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. Genre: Fiction. Restrictions: Titles must be published in Canada and written by Canadians. No self-published works. Prize: $25,000 will be awarded to a novel or short-story collection published between October 1, 2019 and September 30, 2020. Prizes of $2,500 will be awarded to each of the finalists. Deadline: March 11, 2020.
Greater Yellowstone Creative Writing and Journalism Fellowship. Restrictions: Established and recognized authors are being sought, but emerging and mid-career writers are also encouraged to apply. Genre: Seeking creative writers (poetry, fiction, nonfiction), or those in the field of journalism (writer, photojournalist, videographer, documentary filmmaker, online or print media) who demonstrate serious inquiry and dedication to the Greater Yellowstone region through their work. Fellowship: $3,500. Deadline: March 11, 2020.
Neltje Blanchan/Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Awards. Restrictions: Wyoming writers. Genres: The Frank Nelson Doubleday Award is given for the best poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, or script written by a woman writer. The Neltje Blanchan Memorial Writing Award is given annually for the best poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, or script which is informed by a relationship with the natural world. Prize: $1,000.00. Deadline: March 11, 2020.
The Lakefly Writers Conference. Restrictions: Open to residents of Wisconsin. Genres: Short story fiction: 1500 words or less. Any genre. Theme: Love. Flash fiction: 500 words or fewer. Any genre. No theme. Poetry: All poems, free verse to formal and everything in between — 75 lines max. Teen short story: Open to 18 years old and younger. Maximum 1,500 words. Any genre. Prize: First place winners will receive a cash prize of $100; second place winners will receive $75; and third place winners will receive $50. Winners must be able to attend an awards ceremony. Deadline: March 13, 2020.
White River Environmental Law Writing Competition is sponsored by the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law and Vermont Law School. Restrictions: Open to all students currently pursuing a degree (J.D. or LL.M) at an accredited law school in the United States. Submissions written as a class component, as a journal requirement, or otherwise for academic credit are acceptable. Genre: Original essays addressing any relevant topic in the fields of environmental law, natural resource law, energy law, environmental justice, land use law, animal law, and agricultural law. Prize: $1000 cash prize and an offer of publication with the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law. Deadline: March 15, 2020.
Hodson Trust–John Carter Brown Library Fellowship. Genre: Nonfiction (includes creative nonfiction). A book-in-process relating to the literature, history, culture, or art of the Americas before 1830. Award: $20,000. Deadline: March 15, 2020.
ILA Children’s and Young Adults’ Book Award. Genre: Fiction and nonfiction English-language books for children in grades pre-K to 12 and published for the first time during the year preceding the deadline year. Must be the author’s first or second book. Prize: $800. Deadline: March 15, 2020.
Sunken Garden Poetry Festival’s Fresh Voices Competition. Restrictions: New England high school students. Prize: Reading at the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival and publication. Deadline: March 15, 2020.
The Fitzcarraldo Editions Essay Prize. Restrictions: Open to writers resident in the UK and Ireland who have yet to secure a publishing deal. Genre: Proposal for a book-length essay (minimum 25,000 words). Prize: £3,000 advance against publication with Fitzcarraldo Editions. Deadline: March 15, 2020.
Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowships. Restrictions: Open to Kentucky poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers. Genre: Literary arts. Prize: $7,500. Deadline: March 15, 2020.
Lynn DeCaro Poetry Contest. Restrictions: Open to Connecticut Student Poets in Grades 9–12. Genre: Poetry. Prize: 1st $75, 2nd $50, 3rd $25. Deadline: March 15, 2020.
Governor General’s Literary Awards. Restrictions: Books must have been written or translated by Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada. They do not need to be residing in Canada. Genre: The Governor General’s Literary Awards are given annually to the best English-language and the best French-language book in each of the seven categories of Fiction, Literary Non-fiction, Poetry, Drama, Young People’s Literature (Text), Young People’s Literature (Illustrated Books) and Translation (from French to English). Prize: $25,000. Deadline: March 15, 2020.
2020 POPP Award: Poetry of the Plains and Prairies. Genre: Poetry of any style for their annual Poetry of the Plains and Prairies chapbook publication. “While the author(s) may call any place home, their submissions must deftly capture the feeling of, as well as the reality of, living on the plains and prairies. Authors may submit any number of poems equaling thirty to thirty-five pages in length, with no more than one poem per page. (Single poems may extend more than one page.) The selected poetry collection will be published as a limited edition chapbook, hand-printed with antique letterpress equipment.” Prize: Publication. Deadline: March 17, 2020.
Gordon Burn Prize. Restrictions: Open to permanent US or UK residents. Genre: Fiction or nonfiction book first published in the US or UK between July 1 of the preceding year and July 1 of the deadline year. Prize: 5,000 pounds and 3-month writing retreat at Gordon Burn’s cottage in Berwickshire. Deadline: March 20, 2020.
Nicholas A. Virgilio Memorial Haiku Competition for High School Students. Restrictions: Open to students in Grades 7–12. Genre: Haiku. Prize: $50. Deadline: March 23, 2020.
Willie Morris Award for Southern Poetry. Genre: Poetry that evokes the South. Prize: $2,500 and expenses-paid trip to award ceremony in NYC. Deadline: March 23, 2020.
Limnisa Short Story Competition. Genre: Short story under 3,000 words on theme of Plastic. Prize: One-week, all-inclusive writers’ retreat or workshop in Limnisa, Greece and online publication, or five online personal tutoring sessions instead. Deadline: March 29, 2020.
Daniel Pearl Investigative Journalism Initiative Grant. Restrictions: Open to journalists aged 22–38. Genre: Investigative journalism piece about modern prejudice. Prize: $5,000 grant. Deadline: March 30, 2020.
Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing. Restrictions: Open to first-generation residents of the United States. “First-generation” can refer either to people born in another country who relocated to the U.S., or to American-born residents whose parents were born elsewhere. Genre: Unpublished nonfiction books. Prize: $10,000 and publication. Deadline: March 31, 2020.
L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Contest. Restrictions: open only to those who have not professionally published a novel or short novel, or more than one novelette, or more than three short stories, in any medium. Genres: Science fiction, fantasy and dark fantasy up to 17,000 words. Prizes: Three cash prizes in each quarter: a First Prize of $1,000, a Second Prize of $750, and a Third Prize of $500, in US dollars. In addition, at the end of the year the winners will have their entries rejudged, and a Grand Prize winner shall be determined and receive an additional $5,000. Deadline: March 31, 2020.
Archibald Lampman Award. Restrictions: Open to residents of Canada’s National Capital region (Ottawa). Genre: Book of any genre published by a recognized publisher. Prize: $1500. Deadline: March 31, 2020.
Sarah Mook Poetry Prize for Students. Restrictions: Students in grades K-12. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $100. Deadline: March 31, 2020.
Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation. Genre: Poetry or literary prose. Translation of modern Arabic literature into English. Books must have been published and be available for purchase in the UK via a distributor or online. The source text must have been published in the original Arabic in or after 1967. Must be submitted by publisher. Prize: £3,000. Deadline: March 31, 2020.
Jacklyn Potter Young Poets Competition. Restrictions: Open to high school students in the Washington, DC region. Genre: Poetry. Prize: A reading with honorarium in the Miller Poetry Series, a summer program occurring in June and July. Deadline: March 31, 2020.
Speculative Literature Foundation Older Writers Grant. Restrictions: Open to writers who are fifty years of age or older at the time of grant application. Genre: Speculative fiction. Prize: $500. Deadline: March 31, 2020.
The Lindisfarne Crime Prize. Restrictions: Residents of the North of England, or whose work celebrates the North of England. Genre: Crime short story of up to 10,000 words. Prize: £2500. Deadline: March 31, 2020.
Spirit First Meditation Poetry Contest. Genre: Poem on the theme of mindfulness or meditation. Prize: $200. Deadline: March 31, 2020.
The Cosmos Prize. Genre: Re-write the final chapter of the 1930s sci-fi serial novel, Cosmos. Prize: $300. Deadline: March 31, 2020.
Foley Poetry Contest. Genre: One unpublished poem on any topic. The poem should be 30 lines or fewer and not under consideration elsewhere. Prize: $1000. Deadline: March 31, 2020.
Jack L. Chalker Young Writers’ Contests. Restrictions: Open to writers between 14 and 18 years of age as of May 29 in the contest year who reside in, or attend school in Maryland. Genre: Science fiction or fantasy, 2,500 words max. Prizes: $150, $100 and $75. Deadline: March 31, 2020.
Jessamy Stursberg Poetry Contest for Canadian Youth. Restrictions: Canadians, grades 7–12. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $400. Deadline: March 31, 2020.
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